Now that it really feels like winter and it’s dark before I’m even considering making dinner, I thought it’d be good to jot down my top tips for how to survive the cold and flu season. These are lifestyle and diet practices that are very effective for prevention, but also shortening intensity and duration of colds and flu. For best results, up your game on the following tips, as soon as you feel an illness coming on.
- Wash Your Hands– Can you hear the mother in me!? But really, this is one of the biggest preventative steps you can take. Also make sure you’re rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds! Try to avoid touching your mouth and face, throughout the day. If you’re out and about in a place with lots of germs (stores, bank, doctors, etc) get yourself some good chemical free hand sanitizer, like THIS one. Also get some good non- toxic sanitizing spray for your countertops and what not. I like THIS one.
- Rest– If you feel something coming on, you need extra rest. That means pulling back on the exercise intensity and/or frequency (even if you feel like you can still do it) and getting to bed earlier than usual. Your body needs all its reserves to fight those invaders! See HERE for more on quality sleep.
- Hydrate– Your body needs adequate fluids (coffee and tea don’t count) to bring immune boosting nutrients to the cells, to fight invaders. Make sure you’re getting in enough water, preventatively and during sickness.
- Stress– Your immune system is negatively impacted by chronic stress, putting you at increased risk for contracting an illness. Find ways to mange your stress, daily. Some examples are deep breathing exercises, yoga, guided meditation, walking, being outside, etc. See more tips for stress management, HERE.
- Reduce/ Avoid These Foods– Added sugar, alcohol, caffeine, processed foods and dairy, can all weaken the immune system. Do your best to reduce these particular foods and drinks, when your risk is high or you feel the onset of illness.
- Increase These Foods– Good protein sources (listed below) all contain various nutrients that help the immune system do its job. Include lots of colorful fruits and veggies, which supply antioxidants that help fight bacteria and viruses. Here’s a list of foods to focus on, that will supply your body with protein, zinc, Vitamin C, D and A. Frozen options for the fruits and veggies, are just fine:
- Poultry (organic)
- Beef (grass-fed)
- Pork (pastured)
- Eggs (pasture raised)
- Fish and shellfish (wild caught)
- Colorful bell peppers
- Dark green leafy veggies
- Home made bone broth
- Pumpkin seeds
- Dark chocolate
- Fresh herbs of any kind
- Fermented foods like (lacto fermented) sauerkraut, pickles, kimchee and keifer, yogurt, and kombucha.
- Organic liver. Best recipe, HERE.
- Vitamin D– Vitamin D plays a crucial role in nearly every system in the body. Most people are deficient, which can greatly impact your immune system. You can easily get this nutrient tested by asking your PCP for a test. Optimizing your Vitamin D level to 40-60 ng/ml can be done with supplementation of D3 drops or gel caps. HERE is a great resource to tell you how much to supplement with, once you know your level.
Want more? HERE is another good article, with more suggestions for managing symptoms, naturally..
Look out for the next article, on Supplementing Wisely For Cold and Flu Season.
I hope you all have a happy and healthy Holiday Season!